Sustainability Education at BUGS

Elements of Sustainability Education

Our hands-on interdisciplinary sustainability education with a focus on real-world problem solving and exploration of environmental, social, and economic sustainability prepares our middle school students for success in high school and to become critical thinkers, lifelong learners, and thoughtful designers of a more socially just and sustainable world.

Teachers apply multiple pedagogical approaches to bring real world challenges and problem solving into the classroom through: 

  • Place-Based Learning

  • Project-Based Learning

  • Service Learning/Youth Participatory Action Research

  • S-STEAM (Sustainability-related Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math and Sustainability)

The criteria that students use to plan and assess their work at BUGS is based on the following Interdisciplinary Sustainability Competencies:

Strategic Thinking and Future Orientation: When you have a vision for change you need to plan strategically and take action to make the vision happen. What is your plan and what actions are you taking to make the plan happen?

Multiple Perspectives: Putting yourself in other people’s shoes and being a good listener. Have you considered how your project will affect others? If so, how are you including other people’s perspectives (ideas, opinions, values) in your project planning?

Stakeholder Engagement: Making sure that the recipients of your community action project and the people you will need to make it happen are actively involved in the planning and/or execution of the project. How did you engage your stakeholders? Who were your stakeholders?

Systems Thinking: Understanding that all of the parts of a plan need to work together. A change to one part of the plan means a change to all parts. What are the parts of your plan that work together? How might a change to one part of your plan affect the whole plan?

Future Thinking: Thinking about how the past and present influence the future. How will your project work over time and as the world changes?

interdisciplinary sustainability projects in action


6th grade

Urban Gardening and the Commons                                

In the 6th grade students are introduced to our sustainability guiding principles through urban gardening and waste management projects. All 6th grade students are enrolled in a foundational course called "Sustainability Studio". The class meets for 3 hours a week, including double block, two-hour class, to engage in field study and hands-on STEAM projects that teach basic sustainability principles. 


7th Grade

Urban Watersheds and the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site

In the 7th grade students expand their study of sustainability to urban watersheds and the Gowanus Canal Superfund site. Furthermore, students select special "Project Block" courses where, for two hour sessions every week, they explore the grade level theme through STEAM related activities. During the second semester, students work with their Project Blocks to perform sustainable community action. 


8th Grade

Urbanization and Climate Change                                        

In the 8th grade, the scope of sustainability is further widened through the theme of urbanization and climate change. Through their Project Blocks, students engage with communities around Brooklyn to understand the impact of climate change and overpopulation on cities. In the spring, students conduct research projects and perform community action. In June, their results are presented to a Panel of Experts for feedback and appreciation.